I’m going to be honest, one of the reasons I decided to study abroad in Seoul is because I knew it was a major fashion capital of the world. Especially next to other cities in the East, street wear here is overflowing with the top trends and expressions of individuality. The second week in October, designers, trendsetting locals, and a study abroad student from Minneapolis headed to take on Seoul Fall Fashion Week.
The location of fashion week in Seoul is always Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). Designed by world renowned architect Zaha Hadid, this urban landmark sets the perfect backdrop for attendees to model and runways to be spread. The powerful curves and metallic gray hues of the elongated structure are a sight to see in this city, regardless of fashion week.
After my only class on Tuesday, I raided my closet for the most eye catching pieces, threw on my best chains, and took a thirty minute bus ride to DDP. I remember the moment I took my first steps out of the station and looked around to see hundreds of badass, confident individuals under the glow of Dongdaemun. In this space, we all felt like models. Not having enough money to buy a ticket for any of the shows, I spent my time roaming around the venue and finding the best views to people watch from. There was also a huge outside monitor where the shows were broadcasted live! After building up enough confidence, I finally asked a group of students clad in bold, black streetwear to take a photograph with me. To my surprise, when we clustered together on the ramp where people pose to have their pictures taken, a few photographers jumped in to snap pictures. I can only hope my face is on some Korean fashion blog out there...
Friday’s fashion week extravaganza went different because I joined three of my friends to DDP, and seeing the crazy outfits on Tuesday gave me the courage to really dress bold. I spent the night before ripping up and painting red snakes on a black dress. I even took the acrylic paint to my leg and left a bright snake slithering around my calf. We got more than a few stares riding to the plaza, but yet again the moment we arrived we just became a part of the fashion crowd. On the weekend, fashion week was even more populated and inspirational.
South Korea was only formed in 1953, so really there are no century year old fashion brands to solidify a legacy. In their place, young designers step up to the plate and drive the fashion scene with modern pop and youth streetwear. Perhaps this is why I’ve always looked up to Korean clothing trends. Overall, the style seems to find influence in 90s hip hop and homegrown labels, with the incorporation of heavy androgyny. Unlike other fashion weeks, Seoul doesn’t have separate shows for men and womenswear. With men wearing skirts and women in pantsuits, there is no true gendering of clothing.
My experience of Seoul Fashion Week was definitely one for the bucket list. Walking around downtown doesn’t always feel like I’m strutting the runway, but I’ll carry this newfound sense of rebellion and creativity with every step I take in the world.